Posts Tagged ‘Team Captain’

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John Tavares will keep an eye on the business side of hockey this season.

The New York Islanders captain, who’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018, is willing to negotiate terms of an extension during the regular season, he told NHL.com’s Brian Compton on Thursday.

That obviously gives both sides a much bigger window within which to reach an agreement, although a bit of a cloud of uncertainty will hang over the situation until a deal is reached with the Islanders or otherwise.

Ownership has made it clear the face of the franchise won’t reach a state of free agency, while Tavares recently stated things are a lot more complicated than people realize.

Meanwhile, the countdown to July 1, 2018 rolls on.

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Connor McDavid was disappointed to see two teammates and friends get traded, but he understands that’s just part of the game.

The reigning Hart Trophy winner is still processing the departures of Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, who were traded away in separate deals about a year apart.

“It never gets easier,” McDavid told Postmedia’s Mike Zeisberger. “Jordan’s a great friend. We’re really close. He did a lot for me coming in as a young guy, taking me around Edmonton and kind of taking care of me.

“It’s never easy to lose a friend like Jordan or Taylor. It sucks.”

Eberle was sent to the New York Islanders for Ryan Strome on June 22, and Hall was traded to the New Jersey Devils on June 29, 2016 in a controversial deal for defenseman Adam Larsson.

McDavid said he was first struck by the frequency of player movement back in his junior days.

“Two months into my second season my roommate got traded. And for me, it was like: ‘This is insane … You can’t get close to anyone.’ It was so hard for me.

“And then a week later, my other buddy got traded. So, it was like two of my best buddies in the whole world on the team got traded in a week. So for me, it was kind of a rude awakening.”

The 20-year-old superstar knows it’s a reality of the sports world, but the departures haven’t stopped him from keeping in touch with his former teammates.

“Now, in the past two seasons, losing (Hall) and (Eberle) and all these different guys, it just goes to show you that it is a business,” McDavid said. “But friendships do last. I talk to Taylor all the time, I was at (Jordan’s) wedding … so, like I said, friendships last. Those are the types of bonds you get when you are on a team.”

McDavid and Eberle played together for the last two seasons, and Hall played with McDavid during the 2015-16 campaign. Hall and Eberle were teammates for six seasons beginning in 2010-11.

All three players were first-round picks, with McDavid and Hall going first overall in 2015 and 2010, respectively. Eberle was Edmonton’s 22nd overall selection in 2008.

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The ongoing contract saga between John Tavares and the New York Islanders seems to be farther from a resolution than ever before.

Last week, it was reported that the two sides had yet to even discuss financial details of a new deal, and this week, Tavares himself fanned the flames of speculation.

“Things are a lot more complicated than they think,” Tavares told Brian Compton of NHL.com. “I think everyone’s situation is different, everyone’s circumstances are different, but you look at some of the situations with guys in similar situations that I’m in, it doesn’t always happen the first day or that first month. It takes time.

“It’s a big decision in your life and you want to make sure you’re thorough and you understand everything going forward, so I think anybody making any decision like this in life would approach it the same way.”

Before Tavares commits to the Islanders long term, it’s obvious he’s waiting to see where the club will even be playing its future home games, as the team is expected to put forth a new arena proposal for the Belmont Park site within the next few weeks.

“I’ll take everything into consideration,” Tavares said.

“When the time is right, it’ll all work out. It’s hard for me to just sit here and say what-ifs, because I don’t like to look at it that way. You obviously have an idea of the future and things you want to understand and have an idea, but at the same time, I really try to live in the present.”

Unless the Islanders and Tavares have some unforeseen breakthrough in contract talks over the next few months, he will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2018.

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Jaromir Jagr may not be a part of the NHL this year, but that doesn’t mean hockey fans won’t have at least one graybeard to fawn over.

Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara enters the coming campaign as one of just two 40-year-olds – the other being Minnesota Wild center Matt Cullen – and while he’s had a prolific 19-year career, Chara doesn’t see 2017-18 as his swan song.

“I definitely want to play beyond this season,” Chara told Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com. “It’s really hard to put a number on it. Some people do and some people don’t. I just obviously want to keep playing beyond this season.

“I love this game too much. I have made no secrets about it. I want to stay here and continue to play.”

While Chara may have his sights set on the years ahead, there are no guarantees he’ll play beyond 2017-18. That’s because he’s entering the season on the final year of a seven-year deal he signed in 2011.

Still, earning a contract extension will be only part of his focus this season.

“I love the game. I love everything about it. I love the sacrifice and I love the training. There are so many things that are so positive,” Chara added. “At my age, I look at what I can still do and just really enjoy it. I just want to keep improving and play for as long as I can.”

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Steven Stamkos has an extra spring in his stride.

The Tampa Bay Lightning captain, who suffered a torn meniscus that required surgery early last season, has begun skating with teammates ahead of training camp following a failed attempt to return for a playoff push in the spring.

It’s hard to say whether he’s game-ready at this point, but he’s certainly chomping at the bit to find out.

“When you’ve been through the tough stretch that I’ve been through in the last four or five years, it’s tough to know what 100 percent is,” he told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t think I will know, but like I said it’s the best its felt since the surgery, way better than where I ended the season off before the season ended when I was on the ice with the guys.

“It’s just been getting better and better every day and I can see it continually doing so. It’s just exciting. I haven’t looked this forward to a training camp in a long time. I feel like I’ve put in the work and am seeing the results.”

Stamkos added he believes his meniscus was partially torn prior to succumbing to the season-ending injury and going under the knife, and that it was the toughest rehabilitation process of all his injuries.

He missed a large chunk of 2013-14 with a leg injury, as well as the majority of the 2016 playoffs with a blood clot.

In 17 game prior to the injury, Stamkos scored nine goals and added 11 assists.

“My expectations are that I’m going to get back to that player,” he said, per Smith. “Hopefully it’s right away. That’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes.”

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The time for falling short is over.

Like every team, playoffs are the goal this season for the Winnipeg Jets, and that was the message captain Blake Wheeler hammered home in speaking with Jason Bell of the Winnipeg Free Press.

“It’s gotta be this year, it just has to be,” said Wheeler, who appeared in all 82 contests last season but who has not skated in a playoff game in the Manitoba capital since 2015.

The Jets have qualified for the postseason just one time in the six seasons since uprooting from Atlanta – when they were swept by the Anaheim Ducks three years ago. That fact doesn’t sit well with Wheeler, nor the team’s fan base.

“We have enough talent,” Wheeler added. “There’s no reason why we can’t push this to the next level this year. It’s going to be about getting this group together and figuring out how we have to play to win hockey games.”

While the Jets fell short of expectations a year ago, in which they finished with 87 points and seven back of a playoff position, the season offered hope for the years ahead.

Dynamic winger Patrik Laine – the second overall pick in the 2016 draft – in particular fuels a lot of the high hopes for the team’s upcoming season. Laine netted 36 goals and 28 assists in his first season in North America, finishing as the runner-up to Toronto‘s Auston Matthews for rookie of the year honors.

Laine should take another step forward this season, while the Jets will have other reinforcements on board as well. One of those newest pieces is netminder Steve Mason, who agreed to a two-year deal with the club this summer.

Mason is a key addition for the Jets, and he’ll be tasked with helping clean up the team’s defensive miscues. While Winnipeg was one of the top offensive teams last season – finishing tied for sixth with 249 goals – only three teams allowed more goals against. The hope is Mason can cut down on that category.

Of course, it won’t be all up to the goaltenders, and the Jets’ skaters will have to do their part.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to win hockey games,” Wheeler said. “A part of that is getting better goaltending and a part of that is playing better in front of our goalies – allowing them to maybe not see as many odd-man rushes or the breakdowns that we have sometimes.”

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Longtime Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan announced his retirement Wednesday in a farewell letter published in the Arizona Republic.

Here is an excerpt from Doan’s statement:

I’m so grateful and thankful to the Winnipeg Jets for drafting me and giving me a chance to play my rookie season and when the team moved to the Valley in 1996, all I wanted to know was if the Coyotes would keep giving me a chance to play.

Against their better judgment, they did and that first game as a Phoenix Coyote was exciting. We played against the San Jose Sharks in downtown Phoenix at America West Arena, and it was so fun. The crowd was right on top of you, and you could feel the emotion and energy in the building.

I could not fathom at the time that I would end up playing in Arizona for the next 21 years, raise a family and call this place home. But that’s exactly what happened.

And that’s why this has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

I’m retiring from the NHL.

The two-time All-Star spent his entire 21-year career with the franchise, and finishes as Arizona’s all-time leader in games played, goals, assists, and points. Doan and the Coyotes agreed to part ways in June, but it was widely expected the 40-year-old veteran would seek another NHL gig.

Despite coming off his worst offensive season in four years (six goals and 21 assists), Doan had reported interest from multiple clubs to return for the 2017-18 campaign.

The former seventh overall draft pick finishes his career with 402 goals, 570 assists, and 972 points.